Lauren is a reporter for The Next Web, based in San Francisco. She covers the key players that make the tech ecosystem what it is right now. Lauren is a reporter for The Next Web, based in San Francisco. She covers the key players that make the tech ecosystem what it is right now. She also has a folder full of dog GIFs and uses them liberally on Twitter at @lhockenson.
I’ve opened up Nintendo’s first mobile app, ‘Miitomo,’ no less than five times today. But the thing is, I can’t tell you why. There’s something alchemical locked within the app that provides a soothing, addicting presence. To sum it up in a sentence, Miitomo is more ‘Neko Atsume: Kitty Collector’ than ‘Angry Birds.’
This is both good and bad. If you’re a Nintendo traditionalist who prefers the platforming action of a ‘Mario’ game or the exhilaration of recent hits like ‘Splatoon,’ you’re going to be out of luck. ‘Miitomo’ is neither nostalgic nor a game, really. But it is an interesting way to connect with friends online.
At the center of ‘Miitomo’ is, of course, your Mii — the avatar character that serves as your in-console (and occasionally in-game) representative. Developing and creating your Mii for ‘Miitomo’ is an extensive process, if you desire it. You can craft the finer points of your Mii’s face, voice, even demeanor.
If you’re already a Nintendo gamer, it’s fairly easy to port over your Mii and your Nintendo account to ‘Miitomo.’ Though it’s really the latter that plays more importance, as you can use the activity found within the app to connect to the new Nintendo Rewards program. That’s right: completing missions in-game will rack up coins that can be used on a variety of things, including discounts on Nintendo games.
But those missions — and the overall game that lies within ‘Miitomo’ — are nebulous to say the least. You answer questions. You find friends. You change your outfit. You answer more questions. It’s not really a game so much as it is a very long quiz on your personality — the kind you’d find on a dating site or the back of a women’s magazine.
The questions do have an ice-breaker quality to them:
What’s your favorite kind of bread?
What’s your motto?
What’s the best thing about cats?
There’s also an opportunity to answer specific questions seen just between you and a friend. These questions can be a little more personal, but still positive. But whether they’re out in the open or between two friends, the idea is to strike up a conversation — be it a healthy debate or resounding agreement.
The game is also thoroughly sanitized, which is standard for Nintendo social properties. Users can be very selective about who sees their content and who they accept into their ‘Miitomo’ life, blocking anyone and everyone quickly if need be. It makes for a really secure environment, even though it does lack dynamics now and again due to a user’s small social circle.
Yet, despite not being a real game, ‘Miitomo’ has a special quality to it. It’s relaxing. It doesn’t feel stressful or demanding. It flexes your brain without prying, and it allows you to reconnect with friends in new ways. Just today I was able to use ‘Miitomo’ to connect with a great friend from across the country, leading to a nice chat on gMail.
‘Miitomo’ feels personal and fun, even if it won’t feel like a classic Nintendo game. That alone should pique your interest.
‘Miitomo’ is available today for free in the US for iOS and Android.
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